Henry Cejudo isn’t feeling deterred by Alexander Volkanovski’s great performance against Islam Makhachev at UFC 284 this past weekend (Feb. 11, 2023).
Outside of Adriano Martins’ flash knockout in 2015, the reigning UFC Featherweight champion, Volkanovski, performed better than anyone else ever has against Lightweight kingpin, Makhachev. Unfortunately for “The Great,” he still walked away on the wrong end of a hard-fought unanimous decision in favor of Makhachev (watch highlights).
Volkanovski has had a sizable target on his back at 145 pounds since becoming the champion and fighters above and below his division had an interest in fighting him. Former Flyweight and Bantamweight champion, Cejudo, feels a bit slighted when comparing both of their attempts.
“So, a lot of people are dismissing me now,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “Alexander Volkanovski had an amazing performance against a guy who has never been in five rounds with somebody for the first time.
“Kudos, Alexander,” he continued. “You did a great job. You went all five rounds and people thought you won. The problem that I have is when I went up a weight class I stopped ‘em. There was no decision that I was going to allow the judges to take this from me. I went out there, I stopped him, and I did what I had to do to really solidify yourself as champ-champ.”
Cejudo is in the midst of returning from a May 2020 retirement after defeating Dominick Cruz via a second-round technical knockout. While nothing has been made official by UFC, Cejudo has been linked to a title fight against current Bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling.
“Triple C” wants to reclaim what was once his, defend it, then move up to try and dethrone Volkanovski at 145 pounds. With Yair Rodriguez as the new Featherweight interim champion and Volkanovski seeking a Makhachev rematch, a lot of things will need to align for Cejudo to perfectly venture down this mapped-out path.
“Sometimes people will overhype something, and I’m guilty of it, too,” Cejudo said. “Guess what, Alexander? I wasn’t giving you a chance. Why? Because I just thought he was bigger and too much of that wrestler would overwhelm you. I am man enough to say, ‘Hey, Alexander Volkanovski’s a lot better than I thought he was defensively.’
“Okay, he defended a couple takedowns, but guess what?” he continued. “Islam’s not an Olympic champion. Guess what? Islam doesn’t have my striking. Guess what? He’s not faster than me. Guess what? Yeah, he is bigger than me, but I’m a smaller target. It’s the same reason why people are super problematic with Alex Volkanovski. He’s short, he’s fun size.”